tv Book Discussion on The Future of the Catholic Church with Pope Francis CSPAN April 3, 2015 3:57am-5:05am EDT
>> good evening everyone. thank you all so much for coming out tonight. what an outstanding crowd. i'm not surprised. you have picked a very good event to come to. i am with some muscatine one of the co-owners of politics and prose and politics and prose and our staff and my co-owner and husband brad graham and i welcome all of you to this evenings event. i think less of you know the drill but just in case you are new to our events, professor wills will speak for a bit and is happy to take questions. we have a microphone appear and we really would like it if he could make it to the mic if you have questions. we videotaped these offense and we also have c-span here tonight so it's really helpful if the various audiences can hear what you have is a question. we will and in about an hour. if you don't have a copy of the
book and would like one we have plenty upfront. professor wills will be happy to sign at the end. he asks given the magnitude of this crowd if you could limit your requests for signing to this current book. sometimes people bring pass books as well but we would like to keep it to the current one so please you might go with that. lastly if you have a cell phone on if you could silence that we would appreciate it and we would also be grateful if at the end of the event if you are sitting in a chair if he could fold up your chair and put it to the side that will expedite matters greatly for all involved so thank you for all of that. it is indeed a pleasure to welcome garry wills back to politics and prose. we have been lucky enough here at the store to have hosted him for quite a few of his previous books not all 40 or however many there actually are but a few have attended any of his talks you know that an evening with him at his eyes they
thought inducing and provocative experience. i'm sure tonight's discussion will be no exception. professor wills will be discussing his new book "the future of the catholic church with pope francis"." he is professor emeritus at northwestern university a pulitzer prize-winning historian a frequent contributor to the new york review of books and other publications, the author as i said i didn't count but several dozen books covering a vast terrain of politics government history and religion. he is widely respected as one of america's leading public intellectuals and if there is a subset allowed a leading catholic intellectual. as i was thinking about all of this earlier today given how prolific he has been and how influential and widely regarded he is and how many subject he is taken on the question did arise for me what is there left to say? it turns out not surprisingly given the vast array of things he thinks about there is quite a bit left to say. his newest book takes a fresh look at the history of the catholic church with particular
attention to the church's capacity for change and adaptation as it confronts the challenges of a new century. of course the ascension of pope francis who has captivated people in and out of the faith as the backdrop and context in which he examines the church and its role and there surely is no better scholar frederick anchored in garry wills to help us understand the institution its past, present and future and how it affects the lives of so many people around the world. please join me in welcoming garry wills back to politics and prose. [applause] >> i have been coming here for a long time. i always love to and my audiences are always intelligent. what is not to like about pope francis? he disappoints catholic individuals like me but he scares the socks off with conservatives.
they have reacted with panic and no wonder. it is a bit disorienting to have a pope who is actually a christian. [laughter] some on the right reassure themselves that he is changing the tone of catholicism but not its doctrine. and for them religion is just doctrine. if you do not call the right doctrines you cannot be a catholic so since the pope is a catholic though some are beginning to hesitate about that he must hold all the right doctrines. the only thing he can changes the tone. rather than tone i would prefer to talk about changing the culture of religion. the ethos of believing as a matter not only of the head of the heart. as he told his jesuit interviewers the structural
i cannot live alone. i must live my life with others. popes rarely say they need others. the elaborate entry of a palace dramatizes the rulers apartment. it tells that the ruler is not like you or me. he takes all kinds of measures like placing his own phone calls , eating at the common table to say that he is like you and me. the caza santa maria is built in when they needed to. in the casa santa marta the cardinals have no communication with the outside world by
telephone, radio or tv and after a while some friends and people are allowed to be without tv and telephone and they did not allowed women at the vatican at night. the rooms are equal and assigned by lot. he had room 201. after his election as pope he moved to a slightly larger room, 207. he comes to the communal dining room, celebrates mass in the adjacent chapel not in any of the big alters of the vatican. he has to use reception areas in
the papal palace for some functions but he's a visitor they're just like the people he is receiving. it's not an expression of his normal living space. there are deep meanings to that arrangement. before when people went to the popes residence it was a goal of pilgrimage, the center of ecclesiastical grander. in the casa santa marta the pope is a traveler living with his fellow pilgrims. third, what he wears. as a palace sets a man apart so do his ceremony a close. jesus wore no ecclesiastical garments. neither did popes or bishops for a long time. even as late as the fifth century. now whenever he's painted or sculpted he wears all the finery of the bishops that was invented
in the middle ages, the miter the gloves, the slippers but he wore street close in the fifth century. up until that point we were still not clothing our priests and bishops as rulers. now francis has to wear some papal regalia and he keeps it as simple as he can. i miter which all bishops where, a beanie plain white suit. he was offered the ceremonial shoes and remember the previous pope had wore the red shoes made for him by product. he said no thank you any cap the shoes he came with. he has a bad back like i do and wears therapeutic shoes.
one cannot imagine him wearing the cappa magna that cardinal remember raymond burke still likes to wear. rulers often assert the privacy of their mortals by what they wear on their body. he is performing a spiritual striptease. as his namesake threw off his rich close and went back out into the world wearing rags. i don't know if you've been to sec but when you go there and go into the museum there's a place that shows what he was wearing when he would when he died. it was a rag. i'm sure the pope would like to wear that if he could.
fourth, what he rides. francis cannot travel around rome by bus the way he did as the archbishop and cardinal as buenos aires. though he took the bus with his fellow cardinals after he was elected in his first trip into rome as bishop of rome he was not in a limousine exported by vatican police car, he was in the police car. he has followed his own warnings that bishops should not be driven in flashy cars. even on the table airplane he mingles with others like no others have done and it's typical of him that when he was sent a first-class ticket he traded it for coach. the pope has recently a difficult job because no other
pope has lived with the receding pope right down the street. they are still in very important places in and around the vatican. he doesn't want to break the continuity of the church by quarreling with them and he is extraordinarily gracious. in his first major statement he quotes john paul and francis, i mean and benedict and paul the sixth to assert that yes he is part of a continuing tradition and because of his experience as a provincial in argentina it was very hard for him to pull the
traditions of the time and the pressure of the government he said he made a great many mistakes and he did not include or consult people enough he was put in too young. one of the first thing he said as pope is i've been wrong and he doesn't want to be wrong again. one of the things he does not want to do is put one faction of the church against another faction. the right, the left. he cannot join the right wing because it's just too mean. ecclesiastical conservatives like to punish and exclude and use doctrine as a weapon.
their typical action that reveal so much about them is to deny the sacraments to airing politicians. on this the pope has written the eucharist is not a prize for the perfect it's a medicine for the week. frequently we act as arbitrators of grace rather than facilitators. those who turn away people from the sap sacrament room i me of the pharisee who said stay away from jesus he dines with sinners. now we have them saying we have sinners out there and they're not going to dine with my jesus. francis has distanced himself from such people. he says rather than experts in dire prediction who are judges we should appear as joyful messengers of hope and guardians of the goodness and duty which shines forth from the gospel.
he doesn't want to be with that side but on the other hand he doesn't want to drive join the other side either because he knows we lefties are too often the smarty-pants at the party. we are no atolls. the effects of vatican ii were blunted blended not only by papal reactionaries practices that many people loved, fasting devotions. francis likes hope religion. in his sparsity appointed room at the casa santa marta he has a statue of our lady of lujan who is the patron version of argentina. he said impressions of popular piety have much to teach us to those who are capable of reading
them. they amend our attention especially at a time that we are looking for new evangelization. he said also that we should be shepherds and shepherds have to get out and know the smell of the sheep. he said if you love the people of god you will love what they love. he's like joe pope john the 23rd. he did not change the church from the top. he called in the council and they called in a generation of theologians. we can see the same spirit in the pope's handling of the 2014 bishops. when the preliminary report indicated a relaxing of language on gays and communion for the divorce conservative bishops objective. the language was watered down for the final report.
they took that as a setback from the pope but he did not take sides then. rather he congratulated the bishops for their freedom, their willingness to debate, their openness and honesty and called his speech at the end one of the best beaches he made. but then he did something very important. he said let's publish the proceedings. now they were set up after vatican can to to be a voice of the people through their representatives and a collegiate expression of sharing office of the pope and the bishops. john paul said they were getting out of hand and made them be secret. they couldn't publish the proceedings and they had to turn them over just to the pope who could do with them what he wanted. he could do nothing or change it or whatever. this pope has said because of
the pull pulmonary and what will happen this year he said let's see what the issues are and how were debating them and what were looking for. now the bishops going in to it knowing that what they say is going to be known and how they voted. pope francis rightly sees his mission is not just the catholics but all the leaders and believers in jesus and all believers in god because there is only one god and the holy spirit acts through all people who are seeking that one god. as the archbishop of buenos aires he prayed with evangelicals. in the joy of the gospel is major statement so far he said
that muslims too are guided by the holy spirit or the one god and we can learn from the treasures they have built up over centuries of belief. at a time when senator lindsey graham are calling for holy war against a billion and a half muslims perhaps the most contribution this pope will ever make will be to make us give up this holy war. that in and of itself would make him a world historical figure worthy of his namesake. >> nobody has any questions?
>> hello you describe yourself as a lefty in the church. i'm wondering if there was any event that turned you into a lefty. was it anything you read or a cumulation of experiences? >> theologically i encountered in him things i did not expect. for instance he did not believe in transubstantiation and he did not believe in. but politically i was changed by the civil rights movement and the vietnam war. a lot of people were changed by those events.
>> hello gary. my name is mr. mccarthy. i go back many years with you when you and i guess started out at the national catholic reporter. when you were the conservative voice up against john leo who was then a liberal. now he is the conservative and year the liberal. so there is a god. i'd like to ask you, are you disappointed and even justifiably angry at the catholic church is not a pacifist church. there's never been a pope who encourages catholics not to go into the military.
they now supply chaplains and notre dame has the biggest rotc program in the country. do you think it will ever happen that the catholic church will be a pacifist church as are the mennonites the quakers and others and what do you think? >> did people hear that question? all christians should be pacifist. all reasonable people should be pacifists. paul the sixth said no more war. many popes have said no more war. this pope is now saying no holy war ever but that doesn't get back down to the actual performance of christians and for good reasons. popes lead war and lead crusades. they had kingdoms and used them
in horrible ways and all of the trappings of monarchies have began to be wrested away and in the 19th century when the rule was taken away from popes. now given a live in little more i hope you read last week's new yorker. parochial christian. many of the people and there were good friends of mine and i flew back from his funeral from chicago. christianity hasn't failed christians have failed to be christians and that's certainly true. i hope the pope will be nudging us a little more away from that.
>> high i'm curious in your interpretation of the election and how francis won and being interested in politics, i'm interested in these how these kinds of things really happen, in addition to the holy spirit of course. >> well that's a very good question. so the question was why did they ever elect this guy? his record was ambiguous and when he was trying to save christians and fellow jesuits from the military government in the dirty war in argentina he was as not supporting the jesuit
orders which caused long-standing hard feelings between him and a large number of jesuits. there was a rift between him and the jesuits and explaining that is something that would take too long but he had made arrangements after ceasing to be provincial to retire to a home that's not of jesuits and to be buried in a cemetery that is not of jesuits. one of the first things he did when he became pope was tried to heal that rift. of course he gave that long interview, six hours spread over three days with the joint jesuit magazines so now they are very proud of him but i may be saying more than i know but that may have well laid a part in
naming him a bishop and then a cardinal. he didn't do that i think he felt that this is a man who has been honest with the jesuit and john paul hated that. the jesuits, many of them are convinced he tried to upset the order. he tried to replace it with influence and the ones he did favor. all those fairly right-wing groups that he favored. so given that and that he was not sure that he was entirely on his side but they didn't think he was entirely on the other side either.
now who knows why each of them voted. i think a lot of them were scared they needed somebody from outside the churches growing and they needed somebody to step up. they figured he's old, what can he do? that's what they thought about john the 23rd two. when they finally got rid of john paul and benedict then they do say we need a little fresh air in this musky place. >> you've talked about the steps
he is taken to shift culture but what hopes do you have that he might actually do something to shift doctrine and what doctrine do you think he is interested in shifting particularly women in the church? >> did you hear that question? she said he's changing the culture but will he change doctrine surrounding women? john the 23rd did not change doctrine on his own. the pope is not a king but changes took place there, very deep and important changes
especially regarding the jewish people. they were accused of killing christ and the council change that. i should say that it's not easy for rulers to reverse course as we found out when he couldn't reverse course on contraception. lots of things get changed in the church by death switching. they become dead letters. there have been a number of cases where the catholics have stopped believing something without having to say oh gosh
were we ever wrong. that's happening now with the sacrament of penance. nobody's going to confession. they don't have to change the teaching on it it will just disappear. that's happened often. when things came in, for instance the celibate priesthood was not of doctrine and that could be changed easily but women when it comes to liberation of women, the churches behind. patriarchy is a sin of all cultures and to come out from under it is a difficult thing for americans. women are becoming more
important. i don't want women priests, i don't want priests. there are no priests in the gospel, in the letters of paul. he calls them a lot of things and his coworkers a lot of things but he never calls himself a priest. i'm addressing my fellow elders. that was the highest ranking achievable at that time. the priesthood is shrinking so drastically to a small group, a very old group, women are doing a lot in my church. at northwestern university in my church for the third of a
century that i was there we have no say over that but we have women that we chose ourselves who were the real leaders of the community. when the first one of those retired, students came back from around the country to say when i was having trouble with my studies it was mary kincaid who got me through. she's the one who helped us prepare for marriage. she's the one who baptized our children when they were born. we never had that for a priest when they left us. she's been replaced by another woman who's had as long a tenure and important influence. now, priests are so much in
demand they have to run from place to place three or four times a day and so naturally the laity have to set up and do a lot of things. the fact about the horrible scandal is the laity started asking where is this money going to? the women's influence is going to grow. it's already growing. women were not supposed to study theology and didn't and now there are brilliant women who are theologians in the church and outside the church.
i use the library and when i started going there it was all male, people who are studying for the ministry. more and more there were a lot of women and then it was equal numbers and now there are more women than men. so the pope will not declare women are equal but he will recognize it when he sees it. the pope may not like it when they see it but they know what it is. >> thank you going back to your earlier example, i happen not to be roman catholic but the more i learn about francis the more i have very deep feelings that i would like to follow him and that he really understands the
great commandments. could you expand on your comments on how he is influencing other denominations and other faiths? >> the question is isn't the pope influencing non-catholics as well? is he ever. in fact i just came from a reading in austin texas where somebody got up and said why do non-catholics like him better than catholics? i said maybe it's because he reminds some people of jesus. >> your first book was a biographer of st. francis. i was wondering what does he think of pope francis? >> the question is what would he
think about pope francis? well, he would love him. what's not to love? the thing is although he had some bad views, especially on jews, he was a date great democrat. he said democracy is like blowing your nose. you may not do it very well but you have to do it yourself. [laughter] i think he would recognize the democratic goal of st. francis who wants to be with the people. he says get out of your rectory's. one of the things that came up in the jesuit orders is he took some people who he felt were endangered but many jesuits thought he didn't support them enough but then he became
archbishop and he would take the bishop he take the bus and he would say i want the priest to get out there. he said i admire the priests because he knew the name of every dog in the slum. >> you began by saying catholics are predictor it particularly addicted to doctrine. but doctrine is not going to disappear from the catholic church. we do it reflectively, it just happens. can you indicate what you think might be the direction that doctrine will evolve into useful and helpful kind of way rather than in an excluding and condemnatory ways that it has in many years. >> the question is doctrine is
not all bad, which doctrine do we need? the really important doctrine were formulated in the early council formulated in the east in councils that popes attended. what gave them the power to annunciate what christian belief was? the amp of emperor called together parts of the area to establish communication with the bishops. let me start over and say that he was asked at one point are you aware so many catholics don't believe what the vatican says they should believe on
contraception, abortion married priest whatever. he said no, that doesn't surprise me. doctrine was not reached by boat but by revelation. as a matter of fact doctrine was reached by boat. they debated the trinity. there was a majority and minority vote and the majority one. the bishop had been elected. they were elected. the way you became a priest in the fourth century was to have a community say we want you to be a priest. people try to avoid that. they went to the emperor and said they want him and so he has to, to us. the people were the voice of god. once you are chosen you could
never leave. you were married to that community. you were the leader of that community. they had made you like saint augustine had asked permission from his community. that was so true that the bishop was united with the community and the expression of it that during most of the middle ages no bishop could become pope. he would have to leave his people so you had abbots and deacons and aristocratic sons and people like that becoming pope but no bishop. it doesn't strike enough people how odd that was. now you have to be a bishop to be considered pope.
then you couldn't be pope because you were with the community. the question was which doctrines are expected of christianity and should be developed? it's the doctrine that were reached the way they were with the people of god. how are you living with jesus and what is important to do that in a better way. that is the real source of doctrine. >> i'm just curious about, just because the pope's commute coming to the united states and he is going to publish a highly anticipated announcement on climate change and many of his choices about the bishops and the archdiocese of chicago who is a huge follower of him, i was
curious about your views on his visit to the united states as well as his choices for new bishops or new cardinals coming up into the church? >> the question is what about his visit to the united states. what do you anticipate? i don't predict. the trouble with this pope is if you're into the prediction game, he says i get up every morning and i want a piece of pie. so far he's been surprising us that way and i hope he continues to do it. the choice of the cardinal and bishop in chicago replacing a very conservative he's the person who has homilies at our church shows that he does want shepherds to smell their sheet.
he wants people who are real pastors. you knew you had to read the demands of the pope and so what we had was a church. every poll that has been taken shows that 80% of people in their fertile years use contraception. the bishops don't care about that they were addressing only rome. they were looking up to the pope saying i think contraception is horrible. i think it's so horrible that
i'm going to intrude into american politics and say that obama care is evil because it takes away the religious freedom of catholics not to have any contraception. they have it. they've exercise their freedom. that's a totally hypocritical argument. i know people who refuse to be ordained saying that if you don't agree with the teaching on contraception i won't ordain you. they didn't get ordained. some people did. the way to succeed in the church was to be a hypocrite. those are things that will work themselves out.
what catholics actually believe and do will determine our future. >> so you seem to actually like a lot about pope francis and you also seem to really understand the fermentable forces in front of him and the constraints and you've only been there two years. why are you disappointed? why did you say you are disappointed in him? >> no pope can make up for all the horrible things that have happened. i know victims of sexual abuse and friends who have been pressuring the church for some kind of heroic resolution and
they're not satisfied with the pope. i'm not satisfied and really none of us can be. i don't know exactly what they expect him to do. he set up committees and is beginning some of the punishment. one of the problems is there was such complicity in the cover-up such kind of instinctual resistance to challenge that practically all the bishops are guilty of the cover-up. they were acting by a code, like a police code that happened with the bishops. even the bishops that did not actively ignore complaint but
there was such a web of discretion of evidence and it was so horrifying, i've talked and to a number of victims and when they finally convince their mother and father, the first reaction of the parents to believe and go to the priest the priest would say oh no that can't happen. when they finally got lawyers and got the diocese to start trembling, they started financial settlements with the proviso that they not take the story to the press or the people, buying the silence and thus exposing other people. in rome itself the whole
vatican reacted with a this can't be true it's just in america, it's just this, it's just that and when that was being said by all kinds of very influential people and in the vatican organs no bishop stood up and said we need to realize what wrong we've done and we can't continue it. but they didn't. i suppose the correct response would be to fire all the bishops but i don't think he's going to. >> there's been some things about him but i'm a fan of him too. thank you. >> i was noticing in the latest interview or one of the
interviews he did there was a newspaper in the slums of buenos aires that he talked about the fact that his papacy would not be a long one and that he might only be with us for four or five years. should we take that at face value or is that the trickster in the pope? or if he would into his papacy and the next few years what would happen next? >> he said he's not got much time left. none of us do at that age. what will happen when he dies? i hope we will not depend on the pope as much when he dies because he's telling us not to. we should be acting like the people of god like we should of
been all along. in america once you get something like liberation of women and recognition of gays going it can be very hard to stop. one of the great things about america is the speed at which some of these movements have put women's in high offices. he would have never have believed that recognition of gay marriage would have taken place at the speed that it has. i think that kind of ferments and yeast in the church when you have a john the 23rd or pope
francis. >> sometime ago i attended a lecture at the dominican school of theology given by a writer. he was discussing the demise as an impact of the formation of grace and theologians and the trend returns to the solid teachings of st. thomas aquinas. do you think this pope has ever expressed an opinion on this issue? >> well he has a dominican lecture and he was hoping thomas aquinas would get back into it.
the interesting thing is he's the hero at this dominican. when you want us to go back to aquinas it depends which one you want to go back to. aquinas was a great saint and liberator of philosophy but he has left a terrible legacy. he was a defender of the papal power. that's all he knew. he was also a great admirer of aristotle and thought recovering aristotle in the west was done by the way of muslim and was very important. law would tell us things that are not in the scripture. the trouble with that is by
natural law aquinas or aristotle meant things like males are bigger and stronger than females so they should rule. that's the order of nature. if that wasn't the order of nature they wouldn't have been made bigger or stronger. aquinas went on and said that's great and then they went on to discuss the status of the embryo. the embryo should be killed if the parents were weak and debilitated. they were not fit for life. then when they were born, if they were weak and small they should be disposed of. drop them in the woods and let them die there.
at that point aquinas should've been questioning whether this natural law is so important. you can argue of course that natural law is survival of the fittest and if we want to even all we have to get rid of the unfit. that's natural law according to aristotle. aquinas was made the official theologian of the church and augustine was kind of forgotten. i was in the center of jesuits and was trained by jesuits. we never had a course on him. one of the reason is because augustine was a favorite of some popes and so in effect the
leaders of the catholic church said well we don't need him, we've got aquinas. he's sound. but he's not sound on lots and lots of things. augustine has his problems to but he's a much more liberating mind. >> just as a reminder if you don't have a copy of the book and if you would like them they will be at the front and will be signing them. we'll have more questions. >> with the growth of the church in the southern hemisphere, i don't know that much of latin america but in africa it seems to be extraordinary. what's the future going to be like in the church if we are looking to this huge growth not only in the appellation of the church in the southern hemisphere but the leadership of the church. do you see that continuing and
what are the implications? >> is the question is is the church growing in the less developed countries and what we do from there? yes it is and francis is an extension of that. even though he's italian and has a northern dialect from his grandmother he embraced the evangelical movement in the less developed countries. he's known for their blessings and has great sympathies for the developments there. what were seeing is a repetition of history of our church at an earlier stage than the western church. it's a much more attractive thing to become a priest in some
of those countries because there's no other way to get an education and escape poverty or whatever tribal ties people have. you get a lot of what happens in the early middle ages where the priesthood was the only way you could become educated, influential and those kinds of things. but of course there are problems in that kind of culture. i was asked when the dalai lama came to chicago to be on the stage with him and i met him before and he asked me hard questions. he said people are too deferential to me so i fall asleep and the audience falls
asleep. so i tried to think of some difficult questions for him and when i got out there i said if you returned your country what would you do differently and he said i would establish religion. the american way, the freedom of belief. for that you need no enlightenment and he said aha there's problem. why have buddhists not come to terms with science? that's going to be a question for some of these churches that they have to come to terms with the enlightenment.
>> i'm curious how friends of yours responded to your work and regarding the reform of the clergy. how open do you think the clergy in america is open to reform to marriage and that sort of thing. >> the priesthood is a development reflective of understandable needs of organization in the church in the post early church time but it did not have a monopoly on the holy spirit. what happened with the priesthood and offices of power
was that it turned imperialist it. not only are we good for this you can't get married without our blessing. the wedding at canaan was a jewish wedding and there was no priest that blessed it. anyway, the question is how do priests react to this? they don't say if they're learned bill teach us, or if they're loving bill help us we don't need them for everything and we don't need them for the eucharist either because there's nothing in the early church the
15th century doctrine but how have priest reacted to that? i only know the ones who liked it. [laughter] now that doesn't mean that a lot of other people don't hate it although the ones who have expressed hate, not to me personally but in some publications are all laypeople. they want the priest to tell them what the to do more than the priest wants to tell them. at least the ones i know. they knew i was not attacking the priesthood. see what happens now is that catholics come to church on sunday and there's no priest to say well let's get out of here. that would not have happened in
augustine's church. he had taught them you are the people of god and when bread and wine are put on the off altar they are you. receive what you are, the body of christ. so priests are very nice. most of them i like it and they make contributions but the idea that the spirit only transcends for this one conduit pope bishop to priest if that were true all of the protestants would be without god. they don't have the right channel. >> thank you so much [applause].